This is a little risque compared to my usual posts, but I feel that a blog is a good forum for dicussing such issues.
I read a forum thread on a model networking site yesterday, which asks what the age limits are for censored images and whether younger site members are able to view these censored images. The specific issue with the thread starter is that anyone can view 18+ rated images without even having to log in, simply by ticking a checkbox. There has been varied responses to this arguing for and against censorsing images.
This got me thinking quite seriously about censorship – who should be in control of what we can and cannot see or look at and what should they be able to control?
The purpose of art is expression, it sends a message to the viewer, but depending on the person the message can be interpreted in many different ways – often differently to the message that the artist intended to construe. As such, some will find an image contains a piogniant message where others will be offended, for example, some find sex to be a beautiful act, yet others find it vulgar.
It raises many questions in my mind:
Where does it cease to be art and become pornographic?
Should we stop young people or minors from seeing works of art, in any medium, because they contain nudity or graphic depictions of sex/violence/drugs/racial hatred/religious extremism/other, and if yes, where do we draw the line?
Why, in London, are fashion magazines are relegated almost to the top shelf but in Paris nudity is on magazine covers, adverts and in shop windows and no-one bats an eyelid?
Why is photography looked at differently when nudity is involved as opposed to a painting?
Is the issue that, in this day and age, we jump to conclusions too quickly, or is it quite the opposite?Perhaps we should look at the context of an image or artwork open-mindedly before making judgement, or read the artist’s synopsis before making our own assumptions as to what the image is meant to depict. Only then can we make a judgement on what is art and what should be censored from minors. In the UK certainly, our older generations were brought up in a world where no-one even talked about sex and nudity in any form was taboo, but our youth have been brought up in a world where it is more commonplace to see violence, nudity and sex on TV, where it is easily accessible on the internet and in magazines aimed at young teens, sex is talked about openly.
Who is qualified then to judge what we should and should not be exposed to?
Realistically, censorship, is just like art: subjective. Should it therefore be up to governments or classification boards to make decisions on our behalf? Or should it be up to the individual to decide what they do and do not wish to look at? For example, why should a 16 year old be legally allowed to have sex but not watch it?
I am not condoning either stance because I sit on the fence and see benefits and pitfalls on either side, but I would value your opinions on the subject.
Please feel free to comment below.